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"The Cash Cage" - Free Excerpt - Chapter 13

Copyright 2004 by Corey Deitz


Updated September 18, 2004
(Note: this excerpt contains some adult language.)

WFYR-FM in Chicago was owned by RKO General. The company's beginnings dated to 1882 with ownership of one humble vaudeville theater. As more theaters were added, the chain grew and became the Keith-Albee-Orpheum theaters. Then, in 1928, David Sarnoff, the Chairman of RCA (Radio Corporation of America), got together with Joseph P. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy's father, to promote a business deal which combined the Keith-Albee-Orpheum theater chain with Pathe Studios and Kennedy's own Film Booking Office of America. This accountant's nightmare became the Radio-Keith-Orpheum Corporation - or RKO.

Considering David Sarnoff's power at the time, it's easy to understand why “Radio” got first billing. Unfortunately, nobody seems to know what happened to “Albee”. I suspect if you find Bob Canada - you will also find him.

The new RKO Corporation branched out and starting making movies to show in its huge string of theaters. RKO began calling its cinematic creations “Radio Pictures” in the hopes of garnering positive marketing appeal by positioning itself next to the hottest communication technology of the time. The company was very successful in the movie business and is most notably remembered for the Orson Welles classic, Citizen Kane, Frank Capra's It's A Wonderful Life, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and many more remarkable films.

The eccentric billionaire, Howard Hughes, purchased RKO in 1948. He proceeded to screw it up for several years until he sold it for $25 million dollars in the early 1950s. The buyer was General Tire and Rubber Company and between its new acquisition and the broadcast holdings it already had, everything melted into a media pot that was finally distilled down to RKO General.

One other notable fact from history: what is affectionately known as “Boss Radio” began in 1965 on an RKO station in Los Angeles, KHJ-AM. The “Boss Radio” concept dominated Top-40 Radio in the 1960s and 1970s. Even today, some Oldies formatted Radio stations still emulate this classic presentation.

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